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#MentalHealth issues brought out into the open by photo exhibition

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Seventeen portraits of people who have experienced mental health difficulties will be exhibited at Guildhall this month to encourage others to talk about their own problems.

Political aide and author, Alastair Campbell; rapper Jordan Stephens from hip-hip duo Rizzle Kicks; and author and journalist, Bryony Gordon, are among those featured in the free outdoor exhibition, Let’s Talk, (12-25 May) in the City of London Corporation’s Guildhall Yard.

Other subjects include a counsellor, activist, researcher, and actor, all of whom were interviewed by photographer, Charlie Clift, about their lives and mental health, before having words and phrases from their interviews drawn on their faces by lettering artist, Kate Forrester.

The resulting portraits which, in Charlie’s words, display “their most difficult thoughts”, aim to inspire people to be more open about the, often, daily, challenges that they face.

Photographer Charlie Clift said:

“The ‘Let’s Talk’ exhibition and campaign is hugely personal to me, because depression forced me to drop out of university for a year.

“For six months, I stayed inside and ignored the world. I was then given a camera by my parents, which got me out of the house and back talking to people. I really hope that this project can be a way of using my photography to help others who have mental health difficulties.

“I am indebted to everyone who sat for the portraits. It takes incredible courage to have your most difficult and painful thoughts written across your face and displayed so publicly. I really hope that this will encourage others to open up and talk.”

Graham Packham, Chairman, City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee, said:

“Charlie Clift and Kate Forrester should be commended for producing a visually engaging and powerful exhibition to inspire others to reflect upon, and talk more openly about, the state of their own mental health.

“Now, more than ever, we are being reminded about the importance of looking after our mental health, but many people find it very difficult or impossible to put into words what is going through their heads.

“I hope that, by viewing the portraits and reading those faces, ‘Let’s Talk’ will reassure those people that they are not alone in feeling as they do, and that advice and support are available.”

Let’s Talk is backed by Mental Health UK and supported by Cision, Beazley,, and The Photography Movement.

The City of London Corporation, which is based at Guildhall and manages Guildhall Yard, is the fourth largest funder of heritage and cultural activities in the UK and invests over £100m every year.

The City Corporation is also developing Culture Mile between Farringdon and Moorgate – a multi-million-pound investment which will create a new cultural and creative destination for London over the next 10 to 15 years.

This includes £110m funding to support the Museum of London’s move to West Smithfield and £4.9m to support the detailed business case for the proposed Centre for Music.

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